Thursday, July 07, 2005

Editing, Day 17--Character Motivation

Today we finish our AS edit. I’m going to continue on with the rest of the scene after the moment of decision. I’ll include the last paragraph from the previous edit and then go on.

She rose slowly, head down, eyes on her target. Halfway to her feet, she lunged for the shovel. Grabbed its handle with both hands—and swung with all her might.

Thud. The back side smacked Vince in the head. He gasped, staggered sideways, momentarily stunned. The rope slipped from his hands. Christy threw the shovel aside. Move!

She scuttled from the barn, blood dripping and head spinning. Into the yard, past the pickups. Get to the house, lock the door! She’d find a gun, be ready for Vince—


The horse stood in the yard. Waiting for her. Christy wavered. Could she mount him in her dizziness?

Vince burst from the barn doorway, his eyes ablaze. Coming for her.

She would never make the house.


Those last three paragraphs feel a little abrupt for me. I think we need to see more of Christy’s thought processes. How about:


Christy drew up short, heart hammering. The horse stood in the yard, pawing the ground. Almost as if he waited for her. She wavered. Her nose throbbed and dizziness whirled in her brain. Could she mount him in such a state?

Sound from behind. Christy’s gaze jerked back toward the barn.

Vince burst from the doorway, his eyes ablaze. Coming for her.

Christy threw a desperate glance toward the house. She would never make it.


Going on:

Adrenaline propelled her to Spirit. Frantically, she gathered the reins. Struggled for footing in the stirrup. She missed it, stumbled back. Tried again.

She threw a look over her shoulder. Vince streaked toward her, fifteen feet away. Ten.

With a cry, Christy sought the stirrup. Found it. She clutched Spirit’s mane like a lifeline. Summoned her strength—and launched herself upon his back.


Here, I’d like to fill out the action a little more in order to increase tension:

Adrenaline propelled her toward her only chance—Spirit. She stumbled to his side, frantically gathered the reins. Raised a foot of lead, nearly losing her balance. Christy struggled to find the stirrup. Missed it, staggered back. Tried again.

She threw a look over her shoulder. Vince streaked toward her fifteen feet away, his face contorted in rage.

Ten more seconds, and she was as good as dead.God help me!With a cry, Christy sought the stirrup. Found it. Her shaking foot slid into it—hard. She clutched the reins and Spirit’s mane like a lifeline. Summoned her strength—and launched herself upon his back.

And there we have it. We’re at the end of our edit. Hey, it only took us a mere 17 days. And you thought your wip was going slowly.

Tomorrow we’re going to look at the original AS and our final version, with a quick recap of all the techniques we’ve covered.

Remember—I hope you take away from this protracted, long edit some new ideas for techniques in your wip—and in your own voice. I’ve merely shown you my version of a rewrite as an example of how I would use these techniques we’ve discussed. What counts for you is how you'll put these concepts to use in your own writer’s voice.

Read Part 19


Domino said...

Thanks, Brandilyn!

You've taught some important techniques that I've applied in my WIP and found my work getting better. I'm to the point of seeing the sentences that need work (and seeing a lot more of them than I used to). Rewriting is getting easier.

It's tough to throw out even a word of my precious WIP, unless I can see that it's worthless. This has taught me to see the value of each word. Is it carrying its own weight? Is it loitering?

No wonder everyone's wild about Brandilyn! Sheesh! She's wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Based on today's almost wrap-up, my goal tonight is to take the opening scene of my WIP and try to apply everything we've learned through the last 17 days and see how I can up the action/setting/motivation, etc. I've tried to apply it in pieces, now I want to apply it globally and see how I do.

Lynette Eason said...

Hi Brandilyn,

Well, I've been lurking as I usually do, but I have to say, I have learned more over the past 17 days from your blog, than I have by spending a couple thousand dollars on writer's conferences. (I did thoroughly enjoy them, though. Grin)

Thank you SO much for your "mentoring". I know how precious time is and for you to do this for us means more than I can adequately express.

Okay, enough of that mushy stuff. Onto the murder and mayhem. I don't know about anyone else, but after reading the final edit of the AS, my stuff seems kinda blah...depressing, huh? Yeah, for me too. So, anyway, okay, I've written this opening scene where a homeless guy finds a body in the dumpster (yeah, it spoiled his supper) that I thought was pretty darn good - Mom liked it too, but bless her heart, I need some objective eyes. Any suggestions? No, I'm not part of a critique group, so am open to advice there too...thanks,

Anonymous said...

S l o w down is what I need to do. That's why I read and re-read your books. Because they m o v e in slow motion when the reader is in a panic to turn the pages! Every calculated reach and bend and stretch. Wow! Thanks for this time, B.

Lynette Sowell said...

Yes, thank you. I appreciate the fact you made it clear that this example is what you'd do. All of us are going to have a different slant, but in the end we want to end up with a page-turner, not a page-yawner.

Guess I'll be digging into my rewrites after vacation. Now I have more tools. Gee, thanks, I can hardly wait! Maybe now that I have a plan of attack edits and rewrites won't seem so much like a root canal~~ Lynette